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Born in the UK but now living in Australia, Paul Fox has travelled to many places throughout China. He has seen the lighter side, the darker side, both the gentle and the seedy sides. He documents his experiences and is willing to share them with anyone who wants to listen. He is not afraid to say things exactly how he sees them, and is quite happy to "name and shame" when necessary.
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Traditional Misery    

By Paul Fox
555 Views | 23 Comments | 9/24/2018 1:34:23 PM
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Monday will be what I call 'Happy Moon cake day'.

People all over China will eat moon cakes, even though they hate them! Most Chinese people say that moon cakes are 'not delicious', yet they will eat them because it's 'traditional'.

 

So, how does 'tradition' affect our lives in a negative way, and more importantly, why do we it allow it to?

 

I have 2 friends in my QLV who are both American. Both of them are married to a Chinese woman.

 

The first is 42 years old, and his wife is 20-something. He is divorced from his American wife, and has 2 kids, one is 16 and the other one is 12. They both live with their mother in the USA.

 

He and his Chinese wife just had a baby. That's fine, because after all, it's why Chinese women get married, right? Just so they can have a baby. It doesn't matter that she has spent many years studying so she can become a teacher, now she must quit work and have a baby.

 

The other friend is in his 30's, and again, his wife is 20-something. They decided to get married because they love each other. Neither of them want a baby.

However, the pressure being put on them by her parents, is crazy! So much so that they don't go to visit her parents anymore, because the conversation topic is always the same - 'When will you have a baby?'

 

I remember an old customer of mine back in Australia. He was around 62 years old and he had a Chinese girlfriend who was 40. They loved each other very, very much. One day he asked her to marry him, and she replied with a very big "YES!"

 

She couldn't wait to give her parents the good news, but her happiness soon turned into sadness after she phoned her parents in China.

Her father said he would not allow her to marry him. She was devastated.

In the end she had to return to China because her father said so. Why would ANY father do this to his daughter?

He stole her happiness.

 

This guy would have completed her life. She would have been happy forever, and so would he. Aren't fathers supposed to help their kids become happy? Not in this case. Due to her father's selfishness, two people, who loved each other very much, became very sad.

For what? Tradition?

 

When a person falls in love with another person, they often fall in love with the person 'inside'. Sure, we all want to look attractive, but the person looking back at us in the mirror is not WHO we are, it's WHAT we are.

 

Chinese women are pressured to marry before they're 30. If they don't, they have this great big 'label' stuck on them that says, 'Sheng Nv'. This is essentially saying, 'You're over 30 now, so no-one wants you!'

 

I know several Chinese women who have married foreigners, yet never see them. They live separate lives and don't spend any time together, because they live in different countries. Is this a 'relationship'? Of course not!

 

These women have only 'married' in order to escape the peer pressure.

 

There's a couple of English sayings that go like this;

 

"It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice'

 

'Girls like what they hear; boys like what they see. That's why girls wear make-up, and boys lie'

 

Not only are we 'superficial', but we allow others to encourage us to be superficial. Age, appearance, colour, race, country-of-origin, etc, are not important. None of us chose to be born in the country we were born in; to a rich or poor family;, or to be born a boy or a girl.

 

It's only our 'meat-suit' that gets old; it's only our 'meat-suit' that's attractive or ugly; and it's only the colour of our skin, or how much money we have, that seems to make us 'acceptable' in the eyes of our peers.

 

If we fall in love with someone, it's not the 'meat-suit' we fall in love with. It's the 'spirit' INSIDE that 'meat-suit' that's more important, and that spirit knows no age, colour, creed, wealth, or country-of-origin.

 

Therefore why do we let 'tradition' dictate to us how we should live our lives? Traditions can take away our happiness, and they can force us to do things we don't want to do - such as eating moon cakes on Monday!

 

It's so crazy, that Chinese people will happily spend hundreds of RMB on boxes of moon cakes that they will give to their friends and family. Yet their friends and family hate moon cakes too. But hey, it's traditional, right?

 

I spoke to my students about this, and they all said they hated moon cakes too, yet would eat them on Monday because it's 'tradition'.

 

I said, 'OK, let's imagine that November 1 is also a Chinese tradition.  This day is called 'kill-a-classmate-day'. Which of your classmates will you kill?'

Of course, they laughed, but I was being serious. If you're prepared to eat moon cakes, that you hate, just because it's traditional, why wouldn't you 'kill a classmate' because it's 'traditional'?

 

This was my point. People WILL stand against a tradition, if they think it's wrong, but in my opinion, we usually allow traditions to rule our lives and cause us unhappiness and misery, especially in China.

 

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(Showing 1 to 10 of 23) 1 2 3 More...
#2018-09-24 13:34:02 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Hello Everyone - in spite of Paul's ill will towards Mooncakes and Tradition, I wish you all a great Mooncake Day, and I hope you enjoy eating your mooncakes.

I beg to differ with Paul as to the taste of mooncakes. Granted many of them do not taste great, but I have had some that were very good tasting. I must admit that they tend to be the newer styled ones that have replaced the traditional filling with sweeter, western styled fillings.

I also don't think that Chinese people generally dislike mooncakes. I think there are some varieties that they like very much. At least that is how my Chinese wife feels about them.

I would add one more thing about mooncakes that differs from Paul's comments. I have had one variety of mooncake that I personally preferred to any other cake I have ever eaten. This brand was stunngly delicious for a cake. In fact for a "cake" it was decidedly uncake like. You all might have bumped into it. It is made by a brand called Haagen Daz! I urge you to give it a try. It will instantly change your whole way of thinking about mooncakes.

Otherwise, I tend to agree with much of what you have said, regarding the Chinese way of treating having a baby as about the only reason to live. But I think they are generally slowly getting over that way of thinking. And on the other side of that coin, if the white race doesn't wish to disappear off the face of the earth, we'd better start placing a lot more importance on having babies, or we are doomed.

Lastly though, you said the following about a 62 year old man western man marrying a 40 year old Chinese woman:

 "This guy would have completed her life. She would have been happy forever, and so would he."

I beg to differ with that conclusion, especially if he was your typical Western Australian male, in which case he was likely seriously overweight and physically unfit. But even if he was relatively healthy, she would likely go on living for roughly 32 years after he passes away. So I grant you that he may have been happy forever (til he died), but she certainly could not count on it. She may have had a very long and lonely existence for a very long time if she's married him.

Nice blog just the same, although you do seem a little bit like "The Grinch Who Stole Mooncake Day".

And a Happy Mooncake Day to you Paul. May you find a Haagen Daz shop near you!(^)(y)(clap) 

#2018-09-24 13:52:30 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


@JohnAbbot

This blog was referring to 'traditions' and, in particular, traditional mooncake. I was at a gathering last night that was celebrating mid-Autumn festival. There were mooncakes-a-plenty. Hardly anyone was eating them, and, as I left, I walked past dozens of tables littered with half-eaten mooncakes.

 

You are highlighting the 'Ice-cream mooncake'. This is not 'traditional' per se, but whoever invented it is a genius. They're delicious!

However, that said, it's obvious that SOMEONE had to invent a delicious mooncake, since the traditional ones are sh*t.(rofl)

#2018-09-24 15:01:30 by Barry1 @Barry1

@PaulFox1

 

"People all over China will eat moon cakes, even though they hate them! Most Chinese people say that moon cakes are 'not delicious', yet they will eat them because it's 'traditional'."

 

When I was working in China in 2016, the university admin gave all the foreign teachers a few small moon cakes to eat. Sampling one, my initial reaction was



"This cake tastes a bit plain... though being free, I guess it's better than nothing!"

 

My favorite cake is a tart, lemon flavoured cheese cake. This delicacy will put any moon cake to shame, even one bought from a Haagen Daz shop, apologies to @JohnAbbot!

 

An entertaining article, thank you, Paul.... please have a beer on me!  (beer)

 

 

 

#2018-09-24 17:56:49 by autumn2066 @autumn2066

I don't know anyone whom truly like traditional moon cakes. I think traditional moon cakes are the worst Chinese tradition festival food, most of them taste just so so.

Considering that many moon cake factories might have froze those expired moon cakes for two or three years,and then take them out from ice room back into the market, I don't want to take the risk of eating two or three years old moon cakes, so I started to make moon cakes by myself.I ever made some moon cakes with Laoganma Granny chili sauce or peanut mustard sauce or fruit or pumpkin. Was told that I should apply for patent of recipe.

You are very clear about the defects and disadvantages of tradition. The formation of tradition must have been advocated by the ruling class before it could ever consolidated and disseminated and last for long time.

IMO, most of the Chinese tradition have been safeguarding the ruling class's interest well, it never really serves the public. About the tradition's killing characteristic, I would like to say that most of the Chinese tradition are more likely invisible ropes which had been helping the kings and the controlling class jailing the public's mind and hearts. 

Moon cakes are just a piece of cake in the tradition, if we don't like it, we could throw it away, but if we don't feel comfortable nor happy with the core of the tradition, we dare not to throw it away, because your family or even the whole country might stand up to punish you for dare to throw away the thousands of years of frozen expired old moon cakes. |( :D

#2018-09-25 01:55:00 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

It seems from your response that you think I was unaware, after 11 plus years of living in China and now 11 years married to a Chinese woman, that a chocolate coated ice cream mooncake purchased from Haagen Daz, perhaps the most famous purveyor of ice cream in the world, was not a traditional mooncake?

I am less insulted that you think I am that dumb than I am that you think that comment about the Haagen Daz mooncake was not clearly humourous sarcasm.

To be clear, most Chinese will tell you that most mooncakes are very cheaply produced but very well packaged, and those mooncakes taste like cardboard. However, some very high end mooncake that is expensively produced with very fine filling and which is also very well packaged, can taste extremely good. I have had my share of both kinds.

But my Haagen Daz mooncake far outshone any traditional mooncake I have ever eaten because ice cream and chocolate are two of my favourite edibles and Haagen Daz is a first class ice cream purveyor. So tradition be damned! 

#2018-09-25 02:41:18 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@Barry1 - I think I remember you advising us that your diet is pretty much made up of berries, nuts, seeds and the like. How exactly does "a tart, lemon flavoured cheese cake" fit into that scenario?(think)

I feel like I have been wasting my pity on you for many years now. :@


#2018-09-25 05:44:43 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


@JohnAbbot

You know I'm not that stupid!

My comment was indirect insofar as it was mostly aimed at readers who have never been to China, and who haven't got a clue what a 'mooncake' is, lol

#2018-09-25 05:50:13 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


@autumn2066

Perfectly written!

You seemed to get a better grasp of the underlying meaning of this blog, which is traditions in general, and why we adhere to them even though we don't like them.

 

Case-in-point is the famous 'Bonfire Night', or 'Guy Fawkes Night' in the UK.

This takes place every year on November 5th, and includes massive fires, (called bon fires because 'bon' is French for 'good), and fireworks.

Guy Fawkes attempted to blow-up the British Houses-of-Parliament, (if you've ever seen the movie 'V for Vendetta' then you'll understand more). However, sadly, he failed, but that's not he point.

 

This 'tradition' is, arguably, commemorating a 'terrorist'. Or is it commemorating the fact that he, sadly, sadly, failed ?

#2018-09-26 07:57:04 by Barry1 @Barry1


@JohnAbbot

 

"I think I remember you advising us that your diet is pretty much made up of berries, nuts, seeds and the like. How exactly does "a tart, lemon flavoured cheese cake" fit into that scenario?"

 

Well, the answer to your question is it was some YEARS ago that I ate a nice lemon cheese cake.  So I'm simply going off my long-term memory how nice it tasted!   (giggle)

 

 

#2018-09-26 09:26:45 by JoeM65 @JoeM65

Adhering to traditions even if we don't like them....

Like fruitcake at Christmas here in the States?

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